knSaturday, July 8th - A long way to get there: While Wild Mama is taking a much needed maintenance
break, I have the opportunity to fly with Myra Bugbee in her NEW RV14A named "Mojo". Mojo is less than 100 hours
old and just came out of the paint shop sporting Myra's faority colors - teal, blue and lavender....and, boy, is she a looker!
We are heading out to the 99s annual conference, this year in San Antonio, TX. Myra wanted someone to fly out with her since
she JUST got the plane bak and is still learning the buttonology of the Dynon PFDs and teh Garmin 650. I get to play insstructor,
safety pilot, cheer leader and all around "sister-by-another-mother". I have the easy job.
original plan was to launch out on Tuesday and make the 7.5 hour journey in one day. However, the weather had different ideas.
(How may time have I written that before???) There was a front moving to the south and a lot of Gulf moisture moving up from
the north creating a recipe for a Mojo sandwich. We wanted to go VFR since the time in the plane is so little AND Myra
is in need of an IPC. The weather in Hollywood, FL was beautiful as we launched out - light winds and clear skies. We were
able to launch just after 0700 and got little to no wind effect at 6500'. All was going well through our first fuel stop at
40J - Perry-Foley. This is a preferred stop - lots of runways, cheap fuel and super nice people. We got delayed a bit when
Myra's credit card was declined. She called the company and let them know she was traveling to get it back on line. I often
have the same issue with my Discover Card but it is better to be safe than sorry. With full tanks and enough supplies for
the next leg to Vicksburg, MS, we launched to 8500' with the promise of a little tail wind. Well, it was little indeed.
leg was filled with ducking and dodging buildups that were moving up from the south while watching the front tht ws sliding
down from the north. We started with a gap of 120 miles around Vicksburg; but that gap was narrowing every so quickly and
we did not think it would hold out through our arrival. Time to divert. Meridian, MS has long been a favorite stop
and it was in the clear as far and storms and nasty weather was concerned. We turned to the northwest and made a beeline for
the airport. By this time, Myra was getting tired. Sshe had been working hard for the last 5 hours flying and learning and
with the heat and strain of the weather, it had taken its toll. It was, indeed, time to stop for the night.
flew the last bit into Meridian, swooping between clouds in a effort to remain VFR during our descent. We made it through
and under the clouds - then the heat and bumps relly hit. It was a bit of a rough ride the last 20 miles but we made an uneventful
arrival. We got a courtesy car and headed to the hotel. Although the Drury had a 1730 "Kick-back" dinner, we were
hungry and went out for a late lunch/early dinner meal then headed to the park for a nice walk around the lake.
Both of us were tired by that time and headed to bed early to get a fresh start in the mroning.
July 9th - Texas or Bust: We had one long leg to get to Meacham Airport in Fort Worth, TX today. It was
a bit longer than Myra wanted to fly but it made no sense to stop early, especially because the winds aloft were quite favorable
for tailwinds. We climbed out to 8500' and picked up and nice 15-20 kt tailwind across our route. Myra was doing much better
on the buttonology so it was time for a few "failures". I notice that there was no mechanical compass, no mechanical
trim wheel and, well, no mechanical ANYTHING. Time for a full electrical failure. I had been playing with the Dynon screens
myself to learn a bit more about the various displays. I figured if I put all of the displays on the engine instruments and
the GPS on some random informational page the cut off the auto pilot, that would be about the best and safest to simulate
a full electrical failure. We had clear skies, lots of altitude and no airspce issues. Bink: "You just had a full electrical
failure" I announced to Myra with a grin. She "reminded" me that there is a battery buck-up. "Not any
more," I told her. "Now what are you going to do." In the short time we had that conversation we gained 600'
and started heading off course.
Myra grabbed the stick then her iPad and started getting things
under control. She had been concerned about the lack of a mechanical compass and this cemented in her ind that Mojo needs
one. She used the iPad to more or less get back to the correct altitude (GPS derived altitude is not quite accurate but it
was all we had), get back on course and figure out what was really lacking in an all electrtonic airplane. It was an eye opener
and a good learning experience. Mercaulously, the electrical failure was over and all was good with the world. (Simulations
are soo nice.)
In not time at all we were making out descent under the class B of Dallas-Fort Worth
and Myra greased in the landing at Meacham. We got a car and were met by my friend, Jim. His A-26 was finally out of
a 7 year resotration and was making her public debut flight the next day. I would not miss that for the world!
July 10th - Special Kay flies: On a morning way to pretty to remain indoors or on the ground, we headed
back to the airport for a special day for Special Kay, an A26K model that had been in resotation for 7 years. We were beginning
to wonder if her life was going to be dedicated to being a "hangar queen" or if she would really get finished and
fly. Although the paint is not yet completed, she was mechanically ready to fly on this cloudless day. With gret anticipation,
we watched as the volunteers meticulously prepared her, tugged her out and prepared the start-up pad for Kay. With the fire
extinguishers standing by the huge prop on the #1 engine began to turn and moments later the 2500 hp radial engine roared
to life with a few puffs of smoke. How exciting. The #2 engine came on line shortly thereafter and we sat in awe listening
to this war bird breathe life again after so long. She taxied out to the taxiway and disappered behind some hangars on the
way to the approach end of runway 16. One of the volunteers who was monitoring the radio hollered: "She's coming!"
and we turned to see this beautiful bird gracefully lift off from the runway for her first flight in such a long time. There
were cheers and applause and many congratulations to be handed out to the bank of volunteers who put their time, energy, sweat,
heart and souls into restoring this amazing aircraft. They reamined aloft for quite some time before landing and picking up
2 Nimrods who had flown Kay "back in the day" for a comemorative flight. In all, Kay flew about 4 hours, burning
over 600 gallns of fuel!!!! It was such a great moment, however, that no one seemed to care....
July 11th - San Antonio: We had short 1-1/2 hour flight from Meacham to Stinson Airport in San Antonio.
There were some low ceilings reports in the San Antonio area so we decided to make this an IFR training flight. Once we departed
the DFW area, we loaded up the approach to Hamilton Airport. Our project was, once again, buttonology, making sure Myra knew
the proper way to load and activate an approach. She did very well on this WAAS precision approach but the low ceiling persisted
so we opted for some landing practice for a while. Once the ceilings cleared we headed to Burnet for a non-WAAS approach to
landing. We wanted to make one last check of the weather before heading into San Antonio. With an all clear, we make the last
spring to our final destination: The Ninety-Nines Conference!
It is always a pleasure seeing some
of my 5000 99s sisters. We were greeted at the airport by Gloria, an aspiring student pilot, who ushered up to the hotel in
short order. We were greeted at the hotel by Jerry Ann and a cadre of other 99s maing us both feel welcomed and quite special.
We are staying at the Weston on the famed River Walk. The setting is beautiful. We are on the "scenic" part of the River
Walk which is beautifully landscaped with lots of greenery, cypress trees and little to no commercial intrusion. We spent
the day getting settled and meeting up with our sisters to get reacquainted. Dinner was at Dick's Last Resort on the River
Walk. It was quite a lively place.
Wednesday, July 12th - Our work begins:
Our free time was not at an end but it was certainly the beginning of the end. We had to register, set up the table
at the fly mart, start preparing for meetings and participate in our first meeting today. Most of the attendees will be arriving
tomorrow for the "official start" of the conference but for those of us on the IBOD, we are on a working "vacation".
Our host Section, the South Central Section, has done a great job. We have lots of seminar space,
a good sized fly mart, great banquet and meeting facilities and lots of volunteers to point us in the right direction. There
are abundant tours to cater to all sorts of interests but the area itself is just a tourist destination beconing you
to come and enjoy. The Alamo is right here along with museums and lots of shops and restaurants along the Riverwalk.
We got out on the River Barge tour at lunch time. It was interesting to hear the history of the area and understand some of
the significance of the sites. There is the Bella Restaurant with the fig tree growing out of the solid stone wall. (The roots
can be found inside the restaurant!) The old hospital on top of Dick's that creates the illusion of a free-standing wall but
no building. There is a building that hold the Guiness Books record for the fastest construction at just over 2 months for
a 16 story high rise - modular construction was the key. There is a mall district, the convention area, the commercial area
and the luchly landscaped area where we are staying. There is even a heart shaped island where many couples tie the knot!
took care of our chores today and opted for another evening in after a brief shopping excursion to re-supply ourselves with
food for the trip home. We knew it would only get busier from here on out!
Tracked: Boy, talk about getting sidetracked .... The conference was a whopping success: "hip" by one
description. There was nothing left to do by fly home. Myra and I wanted to do some hood time byt the weather Gods would have
nothing of that. We ended up ducking and dodging storms the whole way home with many unplanned stops to wait out the weather.
We came into LaBelle at "racing speed" trying to beat the last of the storms looming over Fort Myers. As it turned
out, the storm blew itself out before it got to us. Myra spent the night and made an uneventful trip home in the morning ...
and as they say: "And a good time was had by all!"